Pressure-Based Pain Tolerance and Cannabis: A Neuropsychological Assessment of Pain Processing in Recreational Cannabis Users
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Chronic pain, including pain associated with medical diagnoses, is an ever-growing concern in the United States. Pain-related healthcare costs, lost labor, and medication overdoses cost Americans more $600 billion every year. From a pharmaco-therapy perspective, cannabis represents a promising pain treatment option. Although acute cannabis administration has been associated with anti-pain effects across pain populations, whether such effects endure remains unclear. Characterizing therapeutic windows is one important step towards providing enhanced understanding about if/how cannabis may be used to treat pain. Here, I used an MR-compatible pressure-based pain apparatus to examine mean pain ratings and mean maximum pain tolerance among recreational cannabis users and age- and sex-matched non-users. I found that mean pain ratings were lower among recreational cannabis users than among non-users. Moreover, I found that mean maximum pain tolerance was greater among recreational cannabis users than among non-users. Furthermore, comparing accuracy and reaction times during a color/word interference task (i.e., “Stroop” task) revealed no differences between users and non-users. Enhanced understanding about cannabinoid-induced pain modulations is important for informed decision-making regarding therapeutic potential.